by Demetrios Rhompotis*
In the wake of yesterday’s terrorist attacks in Brussels condemnations and acts of solidarity to the Belgian people poured out galore like sweat after the initial shock, from all over the place. After so many acts of terror in Europe, it seems a pattern is evolving when it comes to reacting on this kind of violence, converting the entire population or populations into huge group therapies where everyone is invited to participate in a mass exorcism in order to achieve a collective catharsis from fear and desperation. Until the next hit, that is …
Deep down, though, we all know that terrorism won’t go away with condemnations. But it can’t be defeated by converting our societies into Gestapo states either. In fact, the terrorists are very close to winning this war by slowly and steadily corrupting the very fabric that makes Modern Western societies what they are and thus vulnerable to enemies from within and without. In that regard, ISIS works hand in hand with Trump in the US, Putin in Russia, Le Pen in France, Orban in Hungary, Erdogan in Turkey, Golden Dawn in Greece and all the other characters that build their power on fear and hatred.
However, as important as it is not to give in to demagoguery, it is equally crucial to take the necessary measures and be creative because we are not dealing with a conventional threat, in order to minimize – that’s the best we can achieve, there is no total safety – the possibility of more attacks. Besides better security, we need to more systematically engage the Muslims, both here and abroad, the majority of which understand that ISIS and the other terrorists have hijacked their faith and are using it as a recruiting and killing tool. If we engage and empower them, for sure they will be the first and the best line of defense against the lunatics. There is no way we can do this alone, it hasn’t worked for so long and it won’t work now.
Something also that we, Westerners need to know, is that modern day terrorism wasn’t invented or first practiced by the Muslims. Christians have this honor! The phenomenon appeared in the Ottoman Salonica, of all places, at the end of the 19th century when members of the VMRO (Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization) a rebel movement formed in 1893 by Slavic Macedonians to advance their cause against the Ottoman Empire, were placing bombs at popular cafes and public offices of the Ottoman authorities. The police and people felt paralyzed confronted with this new kind of violence that was targeting civilians, not soldiers or officials, with the aim to maximize the number of casualties. That was the idea then and this is the idea now. It is reputed that the Movement of the Young Turks came as a reaction to this kind of violence, as young Ottoman officers formed secret groups in order to go after the terrorists who were hiding within the Slavic speaking population. Same as ISIS terrorists do in so many European countries and perhaps in the US as well. Today the VMRO is the governing party in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and in the ‘90s a split group came close to assassinate the country’s President Kiro Gligorov!
In the 80’s the socialist government of Felipe Gonzalez in Spain ordered the formation of secret service groups with the mission to execute Basque terrorists who could not be brought in to justice in a clear cut case of state sponsored terrorism During World War II the Germans and then the Allies bombarded massively entire cities with casualties among civilians in the thousands in order to demoralize the enemy. That was terrorism too and Winston Churchill himself was a fan of the practice.
Having said that, I don’t mean to minimize or justify what the Muslim lunatics are doing nowadays. But there is no way to effectively combat them unless we know where they come from (not just geographically) and how much of the responsibility we share, having paved the way to terror not too long ago …
*Demetrios Rhompotis is a journalist and Secretary General of the Central Committee of NEO magazine, published monthly in New York.